Over the weekend, Jason and I went on a much needed vacation to New York where we saw "Mary Poppins" on broadway. It was so much fun. As I was watching them sing "a spoonful of sugar" I was thinking how true it was that the kids are so much more cooperative with the cleaning if I can turn it into a game. Unfortunately I am unable to snap my fingers and make things clean up by themselves, but I thought I would write down a few of the things we do to make cleaning more palatable.
1- good doggies
For some reason my kids LOVE to pretend to be dogs. They also love doggie treats. So when it's clean up time, I give each doggy an assignment, and when it's done they come begging for a mini marshmallow treat. If it was an especially big job they might get a couple. Then I give them a new job and they crawl off barking merrily.
2- secret missions
Sometimes we pretend my kids are super spies and they come to me and I whisper a secret mission in their ear. When they've completed the task, they come back to get their new mission. If it's a big mess, I'll just whisper a number into their ear, and they come back after they've picked up that many things. The kids like to tease each other that they heard the other person's number while I was whispering.
This works well when we're doing deeper cleaning rather than just picking up. We choose 3 things that need to be done and each start at a station (I team up with my 3 y.o. because he can't do the jobs on his own yet). I set the timer for 5 minutes then we clean that spot until the timer goes off and then we switch jobs. This way nobody gets stuck doing the worst job by themselves. We listen to music while we clean and have fun.
4- Annie or Cinderella
I like this one because I get to put my mean face on. I'm Miss Hannigan or the wicked step-mother and I tell them in my nastiest voice to clean up "'til this dump shines like the top of the chrysler building!" There's usually a bit of "It's a hard knock life" singing and dramatic sighing by Maren.
(That's me making my Miss Hannigan face while pointing at the Chrysler building. Pretty scary, huh?)
5- Work Jar and Fun Jar
I stole this idea from my sister Emily. Sometimes on Saturdays when we have a lot to do to get ready for Sunday, we'll write down all the jobs to get done on slips of paper and stick them in a jar. Then we'll write some fun things we can do together (like play a card game, play the wii, go for a walk) on slips of paper and put them in a different jar. We then take turns pulling out a slip from the work jar, doing that job, and then pulling out something from the fun jar as a reward for good work. The kids respond well to this one and Joshua sometimes even asks "can we play work jar/ fun jar today?"